Updated: Aug 9, 2022
I have always wondered why I address you so endearingly in spite of you treating me unfairly and without pity every so often. Despite all the uncertainties you hand out to me, all the rough roads you make me ride, all the aches you induce in my bones, why do I still stick with you without abandoning you in some dumpster down the road? Why?
तुझसे नाराज़ नहीं, ज़िन्दगी, हैरान हूँ मैं
तेरे मासूम सवालों से परेशान हूँ मैं
Dear Zindagi, I am not annoyed with you, I am merely baffled. Just baffled. And I am troubled by your naïve questions. Oh so troubled I am!
Listening to this soulful melody from Masoom, that epic movie from my growing-up years, I experience the familiar sentiment of utter helplessness in the face of challenges that Gulzar Saab has so subtly alluded to here!
We don’t despise life, which is why we put up brave fights against odds of every kind, making every effort to survive in war or peace, love or hate, plentitude or penury.
We are not annoyed with life which is why at the slightest opportunity we celebrate it so wholesomely. Yet, when the dilemmas ambush us unexpectedly, we become a heap of nerves. Unprepared and unsure of where to seek help, we crumble into pieces of Bone China.
But to be fair to us,
Whoever thought that to live, one must learn to tackle pain? Whoever knew that to smile, one has to pay debts? And even when one smiles, it feels as if the lips are loaded with debts and dues of every kind.
"जीने के लिए सोचा ही नहीं दर्द संभालने होंगे
मुस्कुराए तो मुस्कुराने के क़र्ज़ उतारने होंगे
हो मुस्कुराऊँ कभी तो लगता है
जैसे होठों पे कर्ज़ रखा है"
The deception of life has never ceased to baffle me. In my moments of unbridled joy, when life seems as perfect as a snow flake, it is as if there is nothing but laughter to enjoy. Whoever in that moment of absolute mirth thinks of pain? But then, suffering is a grim reality. Fait accompIi that none can avoid. I am not sure if we deliberately choose to overlook the existence of pain or we are indeed so ignorant to believe that life is a bed of roses. Perhaps, we are stupid enough to be tricked by the illusions that life conjures up in our eyes and to be blinded by the mirage of transient pleasures.
But somewhere in the inner realms we are privy to the deceptive nature of life. We are acutely aware of the transitory nature of our smiles. Aren’t we? Isn’t that why even when we find a reason to smile, we feel burdened by our fears, turning the smile into a parody of sorts?
Dear Zindagi, seriously, I am not mad at you, I am just mystified.
Come to think of it, I have learnt much from you.
"ज़िन्दगी तेरे गम ने हमें रिश्ते नए समझाए
मिले जो हमें धूप में मिले छाँव के ठंडे साये"
You have made me understand the truth of relationships through the sorrows you have given me. And if I have found any cool shade of comfort, it is under the scorching sun.
Isn’t it in times of woe that we have learnt the profoundest lessons in life? That’s probably why suffering is so endemic to our living - to teach us the truth of our connections in life. To reveal the depth and shallowness of our affections. And what an irony it is that in those very intense, burning experiences we find relief by our realization of truth! It’s you taught who us the uncomfortable lesson that it’s not under the tree but in the sun that we find comfort.
Dear Zindagi, I am not annoyed with you; I am just perplexed.
So perplexed that it makes me want to cry.
"आज अगर भर आई हैं बूँदें बरस जायेंगी
कल क्या पता इनके लिए आँखें तरस जायेंगी
हो जाने कब गुम हुए कहा खोया
एक ऑंसुओं छुपाके रखा था"
Today, my eyes are brimming with tears, and the droplets will cascade copiously. Let them fall, for who knows, tomorrow these eyes will yearn for these very tears? And then I will wonder, where did that lone drop of tear that I had hidden for long go? Where did I lose it?
Somewhere at this point, every time I listen to this song intently, I feel a lump in my throat.
I think of the times when I haven’t let my tears flow, reining it in for God knows what reason, and then later, when secret sorrow clobbers the heart seeking an escape route, I find my eyes go desert dry. Strange, how once there was a river waiting to breach its banks, but now there isn’t even a mist to sweep the riverbed. Where did that tear I had saved for this moment of release go? Unwept, even my sorrow has often felt betrayed.
Dear Zindagi, despite all this, I am not angry with you. I can’t be.
बस तेरे मासूम सवालों से परेशान हूँ मैं...परेशान हूँ मैं...
As the song fades, I wonder why the poet has described life's questions as naïve? They are anything but that, aren't they?
Maybe, he loves life a tad bit more than I do. Or maybe the questions are, indeed, naïve. It is the answers that aren't.
(Now close your eyes, listen to the song and let the lyrics soak into you. Links to both versions are given. The female version has only two stanzas, while the male version has the full song.)
Film: Masoom (1983)